Central Truth: Doubt will rob the believer of God’s best for his life.
We have studied the memory verse in Mark 11:23 from a positive point of view in previous lessons, looking at the various ingredients to a perfect faith in God. In today’s lesson we will concentrate on the phrase, “and shall not doubt in his heart,” looking at some examples of doubt which we find in familiar Bible stories.
Faith To Walk on Water
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come ..into thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
In this story Jesus sent His disciples across the sea while He went alone to a mountain to pray. In the fourth watch of the night (between four and six o’clock the next morning) the disciples saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. Thinking they were seeing a ghost, they cried out with fear. Then Jesus spoke reassuringly, “It is I, be not afraid.”
Impetuous Peter shouted, “Lord, if it is really you, then bid me come to you on the water.”
Jesus answered with one word, “Come.”
Peter started out in faith and as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus he did just fine. But when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the circumstances surrounding him, when he saw the wind whipping the sea about him, he became afraid and began to sink. “Lord, save me!” he called to Jesus.
Jesus took Peter’s hand in His and led him safely back into the ship, after rebuking him with the words, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Faith is acting upon the Word of God. Jesus had said, “Come.” and as long as Peter acted upon that word, he was all right. But when he began to doubt, when he quit acting on the words of Jesus, he began to sink. Doubt robbed him of the best that God had for him. Jesus didn’t intend that Peter should sink. He meant for Peter to walk back to the ship with Him. But doubt robbed Peter of this blessing.
Peter became afraid and doubted. Doubt and fear go hand in hand, but faith and love go hand in hand. “Perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18).
Faith To Cast Out Devils
14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
In the above passage of scripture, what was Jesus’ explanation for the disciples’ failure to heal the demon-possessed boy? (It was because of their doubt, or unbelief – verse 20.)
But did the disciples actually have the power to cast the demon out? The answer to this question is found in Matthew 10:1, “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”
How often do we hear Christians say that they need more power in order to do more for God. However, that is not the trouble at all. If they have the Holy Spirit, they have the power. They think that if they had more power, it would work automatically; but it works by faith. The problem is a lack of faith, not a lack of power. It is doubt that is robbing them of God’s best. Jesus didn’t tell these disciples that they couldn’t cast out the devil because they didn’t have the power. He said, “Because of your unbelief.”
How much faith does it take to cast out demons? Jesus said in the above passage that faith no bigger than a grain of mustard seed could move an entire mountain. Every Spirit-filled believer has within him enough power to claim God’s very best for his life. If he is living beneath his privileges, it is not because of a lack of power but because of a failure to release that power through faith.
Faith To Still a Storm
35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
In the evening after a full day of preaching to the multitudes that thronged Him Jesus told His disciples gathered about Him in a boat, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” As He was very weary, He went to the back of the ship where He promptly fell asleep. In a sound sleep, He was oblivious to the storm that arose. As the waves pounded the little ship, Jesus continued to sleep peacefully. But His disciples were anything but peaceful. As the howling winds grew more vicious and their boat filled with water, threatening to capsize, the disciples ran to Jesus, awakened Him and said, “Don’t you even care that our boat’s about to sink and we’ll all die?” They had forgotten Christ’s words as they started out on their journey, “Let us pass over unto the other side.”
Jesus stood, rebuked the wind, and stilled the storm until the sea was once again calm and peaceful. Then He turned to His disciples and rebuked them. “Why did you doubt me? Why are you so full of fear? Where is your faith? Didn’t I tell you at the outset of this journey that we would cross to the other side? Why didn’t you believe me?” The disciples had allowed doubt and fear to come into their hearts, driving out faith in Christ’s promise that they would make it safely to the other side. Once again the thief called Doubt had triumphed.
Let us look at these three Biblical illustrations and notice the similarities in each. Point out the scriptures in each one in which Christ rebuked the disciples for their unbelief (Matthew 14:31; 17:20; Mark 4:40).
In each instance Jesus solved the problem which the disciples, through their lack of faith, had failed to solve. Point out the scripture in each story in which Jesus brought the deliverance that was necessary (Matthew 14:31; 17:18; Mark 4:39).
In every instance the disciples possessed the power to handle each circumstance. Peter had the power to walk on water, as evidenced in the fact that he started out walking on the water and began to sink only when he became fearful and began to doubt. The disciples had the power to deliver the demon-possessed boy, but failed only because of their lack of faith. The disciples had the power to still the storm which threatened their lives, for Jesus had promised that they would “pass over unto the other side.”
In every instance that thief of doubt kept the disciples from receiving God’s best for them. His highest and best for their lives was for them to receive by their faith. If we will but utilize the power that is within us and act on God’s Word, we will achieve God’s greatest blessings that He has planned for our lives.
Memory Text: “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he with” (Mark 11:23)
Faith in Action: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only ….” (James 1:22)
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